The Westerville Central High School girls swimming and diving team's 200-yard freestyle and 400 free relays will have experience on their side in the Division I state meet.

The Westerville Central High School girls swimming and diving team's 200-yard freestyle and 400 free relays will have experience on their side in the Division I state meet.

"We have pretty much the same relay team as last year, so we're hoping to get both relays in the top eight or maybe even the top four," said senior Taylor Schwartz, who swims in both events. "That experience gives you a level of confidence. We've built a trust and reliance with each other that lasts for a long time."

The two relays were two of the 13 events in which Central and Westerville South qualified for state, which will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, through Saturday, Feb. 25, at Canton's Branin Natatorium.

In the girls district meet Feb. 18 at Ohio State, the Warhawks finished fifth (153 points), the Wildcats were 14th (55) and Westerville North was 18th (30) behind champion Upper Arlington (522)

In the boys district meet, Central was fourth (148), South was 14th (65) and North was 18th (29) behind champion UA (435).

The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically qualified for state. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded in each event based on district times statewide.

For Central, sophomore Alex Schuttinger, Schwartz and juniors Marissa Kramer and Sally Thompson placed third in the 200 free relay in 1 minute, 38.07 seconds at district and are seeded seventh for state. The same four were district runners-up in the 400 free relay (3:33.74) and are seeded sixth for state.

The 400 free relay is going nearly a second faster than Thompson, Schuttinger, 2011 graduate Chelsea Staab and Schwartz did when they placed seventh (3:34.5) at state last year. The 200 free relay will be looking to improve on its 14th-place finish (1:39.73) in last year's state meet.

Thompson was fifth at district in the 100 free (52.94) and Schuttinger was seventh in the 100 free (53.11). They are seeded 16th and 18th, respectively, at state.

Schwartz was 11th at district in the 100 backstroke (58.39) and is seeded 20th for the state.

All three of the boys relays are seeded in the top 16 at state. Freshman Gabe Whitaker, senior John Whitaker, sophomore Josh Nixon and senior Dan Fay were district runners-up in the 200 medley relay (1:36.88) and the 200 free relay (1:26.85). They are seeded 10th and 11th at state, respectively.

The 400 free relay of Gabe Whitaker, senior Atticus Jordan, freshman Jon Brooks and Fay was fourth (3:14.48) at district and seeded 16th at state.

Individually, Gabe Whitaker placed second in the 50 free (21.2) at district and is seeded sixth at state. Fay was sixth in the 100 butterfly (52.18) at district and is seeded 17th at state.

"They saved their best for this meet," coach Ron Staab said. "I'm just a little speechless right now."

•South senior Riley Buer feels like she finally is returning to form in the 100 breaststroke.

Buer is returning to state for the third consecutive year in the event after placing fourth (1:06.21) at district and earning the 16th seed. Her time is .37 of a second off her district time of a year ago.

"It's been a tough year, so these times are pretty good," said Buer, who tied for 12th (1:07.48) at state as a freshman and was eighth (1:05.99) last year in the 100 breast.

"Last year around this time, my stroke just fell apart, so my club coach and I talked about ditching (my old technique) and I have been putting it all back together."

Junior Jared Higdon will represent the boys team in two events after he placed third in the 100 fly (50.44) and sixth in the 100 back (52.8) at district. He is seeded fifth in the 100 fly and 17th in the 100 back at state.

"All of our kids swam well," coach Kevin Kissling said. "Jared was better than he had ever been in both of his events. Riley did better in the 200 individual medley (placing fifth in 2:10.14 but not qualifying for state) than she had ever done and was right around her best in the 100 breast."

•North didn't have anyone advance to state for the second consecutive season.

"Our times were kind of all over the place. Some people dropped time and some people added time," coach Jeff Riegler said. "Some of our swimmers had to battle pretty hard just to get here. The sectional meet (Feb. 11 at Upper Arlington) was so good for us because some of our kids were tapered for that. I'd rather have people swim here than not taper and not make it at all."

Reaching the awards podium at district were seniors Erick Bey (fifth in 50 free, 22.04) and Kevin Duhl (eighth in diving, 391.55 points) and junior Mary Dybdahl (sixth in diving, 400.2).

"It seemed like everything came together," Bey said of his 50 free. "Every year (swimming for North) has gotten better and better. It's fun to compete here with all your teams and everyone cheering for us."